There’s enough urban sprawl across our landscape that demands we pay attention to maintaining and optimizing our urban parks.

Baton Rouge and New Orleans have theirs. Both name them “City Parks,” and the Crescent City has an equally valuable resource in Audubon Park’s uptown acres.

Anyone who’s ever walked, jogged and cycled through these places knows their value is much more than the many zeroes a developer could put behind a dollar sign. The hundreds of thousands of recreational hours matter as much, and certainly more, than the condos or shopping centers that could further blight our living, green spaces.

A big step into the future for Baton Rouge’s City Park, and the City Park, University, Campus, College, Crest and Erie lakes that make up its inner-city landscape, comes Thursday.

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation is leading a “master plan” initiative to improve water quality in these small lakes, a move that would also enhance public use of these waters.

Thursday, from 6-8 p.m. at LSU’s Lod Cook Alumni Center, the foundation-led team will host an open house to announce plans for the future of these lakes. The foundation brought in the SWA Group to consult on the Jeffrey Carbo Landscape Architects’ project.

“The goal is to incorporate as much public comment as we can into the final product so it reflects what the public wants,” the foundation’s Director of Civic Leadership, Beverly Moore, said in an Advocate story this month.

The open-house meeting will involve “stations” that will unveil plans to improve water quality, lake dredging and grading and public-use facilities.

These lakes were dredged years ago, but stumps left over from when the lakes were dug more than 80 years ago hampered plans to make the lakes deeper. Years of runoff has furthered shallowed the lakes, and that, and environmentally harmful runoff is the biggest problem in sustaining the overall health of these lakes.

For outdoors folks, these lakes could provide many more fishing and bird-watching hours than they do today.

Shortly after the lakes were dredged, University Lake produced what was in June 1992 the state record largemouth bass.

Thomas Robertson walked University Lake’s shoreline that early June morning and was casting a soft-plastic 71/2-inch tequila sunrise-colored worm.

A frantic phone call followed with instructions to use a state-certified scale and Robertson’s giant 15.38-pound largemouth made history for the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Urban Lakes Fish Stocking Program.

What price can you put on that experience, or for any like it in the future?

Organizers ask all interested to RSVP Thursday’s meeting via the Website: batonrougelakes.org.